Johnson City MSA private sector wages continue increasing, more decline for Kingsport-Bristol


Private sector wages were up for the 26th month in the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in February while they declined again the Kingsport-Bristol MSA.

The preliminary, non-adjusted average in the three-county Johnson City MSA was $702 in February. The 2017 annual increase was 8.5%.

Kingsport-Bristol’s February average was $625. Private sector workers in the four-county area saw wages decline in 13 of the past 14 months. If there were even a glimmer of a silver lining to the area’s private sector wage picture it’s the year-over-year decline was the smallest since January 2017. Kingsport-Bristol workers saw a 2%  average wage decline in 2017.

Private sector wage growth in the Johnson City MSA has lifted it to the second-best ranking for Northeast Tennessee. Knoxville has the highest regional avg. at $907 a week. That $11 a week less than the national average and the best in Tennessee.

The state average in February was $805.

Kingsport-Bristol had the lowest average all the state’s MSA – $60 a week behind the Morristown MSA average.

Several factors are working against the average wage in Kingsport-Bristol – and Johnson City to a lesser extent.

Many workers are again out of the full-time labor force, and replacements typically come in at a lower wage than the person who is retiring. The region also continues producing more low-paying service sector jobs than the better-paying blue-collar wages that were the staple before the recession. That doesn’t mean the economy isn’t producing better jobs with higher pay and more benefits. They are being created but according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce and Bureau of Labor Statistics list of in-demand jobs for every high-paying job that’s created the economy spawns six lower paying jobs.

Wages for the region’s large public sector lift the lower private sector average when total median and average wages are reviewed by the Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys.

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